Contemplating in Cairo – Vol. 23

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Doing good in this world is hard. Being nice to people can be a real challenge sometimes and being generous with our acts of kindness does not always leave us feeling serene and at peace.



As human beings, it is in our nature to be selfish. We are not givers; we are takers. Some more than others, of course, but it is a general rule that we are a selfish species. We love ourselves and our belongings dearly and, thus, find it difficult to be generous.

Within the folds of our unconsciousness, we want to hold on to everything. This is especially evident in us as children. In The Adventures of Peter Pan by James Matthew Barrie, a famous quote relays children’s acts as follows; "Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time; and then when we have need of special attention we nobly return for it, confident that we shall be embraced instead of smacked."

This simply portrays our nature as selfish beings, clearly evident as children and cunningly disguised as we mature and grow older.

In our pursuit of “taking” we tend to forget the divine balance that makes up our existence. No matter what God we believe in – or lack thereof – there is always a tiny voice in our minds that discourages us from being “bad” or “unfair” in fear that these acts of unkindness will come back one day and bite us is the a**. Some call it karma, others call it fate and there are countless other labels to this methods of conduct.

Mark Twain was once quoted saying, “A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.” With out species, there is always room for more. More money than we need, more food than we can eat, more gadgets than we have time to use, more stuff than our dwellings can hold…

When it comes to helping others, we will most probably not do it if it affects us in the slightest manner. We make a hundred complex calculations in our heads before we donate money, we consider and reconsider when we are asked for a favour, and we show openness when we are asked to drive an old aunt or grandparent home but would rather stay home and sleep early or watch television.

Acts of philanthropy, charity and random kindness are perhaps what Heaven is made of. In our meek trials to be “good people” we try to bring a small piece of Heaven to Earth.

Instead of waiting for acts of kindness from others, our species must learn to initiate and not expect. This is a dream that many of the greatest people in history have strived for, including our Prophets (PBUT). But, alas, these words are so much easier said than done…

When it is in our nature; in the very core of our existence, to be “takers” as opposed to being “givers”, how will we ever elevate to a higher state of self?

Or is our lack of zest towards charity related to our lack of confidence in the entities we donate to?

When it is in our nature to be selfish, and we manage to find a little strength to be charitable but our efforts are met with no tangible results, does that make it alright to refrain from the concept altogether? But then again, are the results supposed to be tangible? Are we donating time, money or effort to see results or to feel better about our existence and achieve the “balance” of our divine world?

Nevertheless, we have a tendency to be attracted by charity organizations that have the best television advertisements and billboards. We seem to forget that, the mere fact that these entities can afford to market themselves in that manner means they don’t really need meek efforts of charity like ours.

Perhaps it is a tad bit late for us to learn how to change our ways and become true givers in our society, but it is far from over for our children. Maybe we can plant in them the seeds of giving and teach them to share and to care. This is a lot harder to accomplish when these children are growing up not needing the basics of life like food and shelter. They are blessed with providing families and, thus, never sleep hungry or homeless.

How will we teach them to care for the ones who do?

And the bigger question is, how do we maintain the intricate balance of our divine existence?

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